reviews\ Dec 6, 2006 at 7:00 pm

Final Fantasy III - NDS - Review

For those gamers who had fallen in love with the Final Fantasy series since the much-loved Final Fantasy VII on the original PlayStation, it was hard to track down earlier games in the franchise seeing as the series made its North American debut on the NES. Thankfully, the original games have recently found a home on the Game Boy Advance (if you haven’t bought Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, you might want to do that right away) and the best part is that neither game suffers from poor Japanese to English translation. Yet while the first and second game in the series has made it to our shores a long while back, Final Fantasy III is a chapter that never did (there was a third game here but if memory serves correctly it was just a port of Japan’s FFVI).


Oh, but who says good things don’t come to those who wait? At last, the real Final Fantasy III comes to North America and - even better - it comes to the Nintendo DS. Actually, think of it as a remake that actually makes the game even better while keeping all the elements that made the game such a classic back in Japan. This third chapter follows a lad named Luneth, an adventurous orphan who finds a crystal of great power. The crystal speaks to him, offering a message that would send him and three others on a journey to find the rest of the crystals and thus save the world. Luneth is joined by his bookish best friend Arc, a soldier in King Sasune’s royal army named Ingus and the lovely Refia who is the runaway daughter of a mythril smith.

Together these four characters embark on a lengthy, perilous journey that is a familiar staple of the Final Fantasy games. There is a lot of the world to explore and, of course, towns to enter and a large number of NPCs to meet and chat with along the way. You will be hooked in by the world and all it has to offer but most importantly you’ll be invested in the characters that don’t come off as cardboard cutouts. They’re actually likeable and thus making their plight and journey one that overshadows the stories and characters in Dawn of Souls for the GBA SP. It’s also a game with a much bigger map, enough that the game includes alternate modes of transportation to get around whether you pick an air or sea ship or those loveable Chocobos.

While most of what you’ll experience is familiar territory, there’s an interesting features that sets Final Fantasy III apart from the first two games and that’s the job system. There are 23 jobs in total and, while you can always change your occupation at any time during the game, it’s chose wisely since not only do you level up your character’s stats but you will also level up a specialty connected to your job. The jobs range from thief, ranger, knight, mage (White, Black and Red) and even a ninja. Each occupation comes complete with unique skills that work in combat as well as their own outfits.


Combat in the game is handled just a little different from past Final Fantasy games with the exception that you can equip two weapons for each hand (e.g. two swords) and with more experience you gain the more your melee attacks and spells become more effective in battles. Combat is purely turn-based, of course, but be prepared to be thrown into some pretty difficult battles. I’m talking battles that will wipe out your party before you know what hit you. While leveling up on your spells and making good use of your Summon creatures like the powerful Bahamut, Shiva or Ifrit (just to name a few), the battles are still pretty unforgiving. Worst yet, the save points are pretty sparse when you die you’ll have to restart from the last save point.

While the touch screen is utilized in the game, you can also play the game by completely dismissing it and just stick to the control pad. Either way the game controls perfectly on a portable format. The game does use the DS online function as well, although it doesn’t mean you’ll be joining a friend online for a co-op mode. This game introduced Mognet, a way to exchange messages to friend. It’s actually a neat way to trading neat new items you can use in the game. You can even send messages to NPCs in the game … which is, I have to admit, an intriguing feature.


hOn the graphics front, Final Fantasy III is a visually impressive game that takes advantage of the DS’ graphics capabilities to its fullest. From the FMV cinematic that would feel right at home on a console to the colorful in-game graphics; this is a great-looking game. While the character models look like cuddly living dolls, the backgrounds are actually incredibly detailed. There are also some flashy effects that light up the screen. This game also has a beautiful score that plays throughout the game and more than decent sound effects as well.

In the end, Final Fantasy III is just one of those classic role-playing games that make for one incredible handheld experience worthy of the Nintendo DS. All the right elements are in place including a great story filled with endearing characters, decent combat and some interesting concepts. Yes, its one tough cookie that shows no mercy but if you’re a hardcore fan of the genre or have always wanted to experience this “lost” chapter of the Final Fantasy series you will certainly like this one.

Review Scoring Details for Final Fantasy III

Gameplay: 8.0
It plays like a classic Final Fantasy game and it’s also quite lengthy even in a portable format. The story is endearing and exciting and you’ll love every minute of it. On the other hand, the difficulty setting is unforgiving from start to finish.

Graphics: 9.0
This is, by far, one of the most visually impressive Nintendo DS games you’ll own. The character models look mighty cute but it’s the detailed and colorful locales that steal the show. The 3D visuals look great on the two screens but it’s the FMV that makes you feel like you’re playing a Square Enix game.

Sound: 9.2
You have to hand it to Square they certainly know how to make their game feel completely cinematic. The game’s beautiful score does just that and comes out perfectly through the DS speakers. There are also some great sound effects that really stand out.

Difficulty: Hard
“Whoa,” you’ll say to yourself as your party is wiped out for the 50th time. “They certainly don’t make them this hard nowadays.” Ouch, you’ll say as you yank hair from your head after you’re stuck in one very difficult battle. And if you’re just a casual admirer of the role-playing game genre, you’ll be saying “bye-bye.” Really, this is one seriously challenging RPG so hardcore RPG fans need apply.

Concept: 8.5
It has long been the Final Fantasy game us North American gamers never got to play but thanks to the magic of the Nintendo DS we finally get our hands on it. It might be an old-school role-playing game but the neat job system and the Summons creatures add an interesting twist. You can also write messages to characters in the game as well as other gamers via a WiFi connection.

Multiplayer: 7.0
There’s an online function that makes good use of the Nintendo DS WiFi connectivity but it’s used as an interesting correspondence feature where you can exchange letters with other gamers. This is a great way of unlocking neat new items you can use in the game.

Overall: 8.0
One of the most thrilling and enjoyable chapters of this beloved RPG franchise, Final Fantasy III is a truly impressive role-playing game for your Nintendo DS and one well worth the purchase price. While it is a brutally challenging game that might turn off the more casual gamer, it stands as one of the best portable RPGs available for the DS this year.


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